A translation from a while back

Every once in a while I think of this poem by Nicanor Parra, and want to find my translation again. So here it is! I think it is weirdly compelling and it also makes me laugh even if it is a somewhat bitter or wry laugh. There’s a lot in there.


No nos echemos tierra a los ojos
El automóvil es una silla de ruedas
El león está hecho de corderos
Los poetas no tienen biografía
La muerte es un hábito colectivo
Los niños nacen para ser felices
La realidad tiende a desaparecer
Fornicar es un acto diabólico
Dios es un buen amigo de los pobres.

– Nicanor Parra, 1962


Let’s not throw dust in our own eyes
The car is a wheelchair
The lion is made out of lambs
Poets don’t have life stories
Death is a collective habit
Kids are born to be happy
Reality tends to disappear
Fucking is a diabolical act
God is a good friend to the poor.

Recently published poems

At some point this spring while I was sick in bed for weeks I sent out a big batch of poems and this time tracked what I sent to what magazine. I guess about a third of what I sent out got accepted. I should do it more often! Plus Aqueduct Press is going to put out my new book, Unruly Islands; I’ll talk more about that later!

Here are some links to the recently published poems and the journals they’re in, with snippets of the poetry,

cover of stone telling journal

Mother Frankenstein, in Stone Telling, a really great online magazine that publishes “literary speculative poetry with a strong emotional core. I like the other work in this magazine quite a lot and am incredibly honored to have a poem in it, especially this poem which I wrote many years ago and still love. For a while I was reading this dense, ranty poem at open mics and people would just clutch their heads and go WTF!!! Stop it! Too much! Where did that come from! So I’m glad it’s out there; no one ever seemed to want it; too long, too odd, doesn’t fit, etc. Stone telling is the perfect home! Read the rest of their poetry and you’ll see what I mean — and you will probably get sucked into their archives.

stitches straining to burst with the bowling ball weight of the guilt
of futile miscarriages tumbling in cataracts, stochastic tapestry,
I would leap into the night, iridium flash, verso of the meteor’s flight,
unintentional handful of nothing and words and the workbench of memory,
Mary mother of Frankenstein you give me your blackened tooth’s unwatched star,
your handfuls of stigmata, your soldier ants slicing the moon’s andalusian eye,
your body’s machinery in the bonefrost of lost desire and a kiss of loving betrayal,
the memory of your pellucid eggshell trembling in the corpus luteum of my fists

A poem in Our of Our volume 11. I like their magazine, which is kind of old school City Lights-ish. They published “Hard use”, a poem I wrote about how much I loved my pickup truck which sounds like it will be about hound dogs and railroad tracks but is not. I think I have one other poem in there (but cannot remember and the magazine is not in front of me) Here is a little bit of “Hard use”:

rattle up wood-stake spade and rake
shoot that agave smack to the gas can

radio: ay! cumbia!

pop into the dust groove
needle in the cinderblock
gas cap, hubcap, rope
loud hot in the truck bed

I think it is not yet actually printed but I had some translations of fantastic poems by Carmen Berenguer accepted by specs journal for their Fall 2011 issue. I’m so excited about that! I love her work, and some of these were supposed to be in Five Finger Review but the journal sadly folded for lack of funds (or something) before the issue was published. This issue — themed “kaleidoscopic” — sounds well worth reading. Check this out, this was their call for submissions, you could not get more perfect for Berenguer’s work:

specs journal call for subs

This year, specs is working in collaboration with the Florida Studies Initiative at Rollins to support the Alfred J. Hanna Symposium on Florida. The symposium shares the theme of kaleidoscopic point and celebrates critical inquiries that consider the people, places, and events rooted in Florida’s cross-cultural past and transnational reality.

In May, an online zine called O Sweet Flowery Roses published “2 pelican poems”, short funny bits of language about, well, fucking pelicans, what do you expect? Their permalinks are not working so to get to my stuff you need to click on Archives in the sidebar and then May 2011. I submitted to them because I like their taste and their rapid publishing pace. These poems are what I always think of when I look at pelicans flying over the ocean, it’s as if I just summed up all the thoughts about them and can’t really go any further. Notable if you like alchemy and for the funny word “icthyo-athanor”.




A poem I wrote a very long time ago in Blue Lake Review.

I’m missing something here — there was at least one translation published in the summer but I would have to go through my email laboriously to figure it out. I would like to complain that no one ever wants my absolutely kickass translations of Nestor Perlongher; however I have gotten a few nice emails from grad students writing about his work and was happy to hear about their projects & give them some reading recommendations. Annoyingly years ago I sent a batch of them to some dude on the East Coast at his request who did not publish them but then went on to publish his own! So it goes.

My backlog of unpublished work is very very clogged full of translations of Juana de Ibarbourou which I was in theory supposed to publish with Green Integer but somehow that never happened. I should send those out again or re-contact green integer if they’re still around.

I also wish I could “place” my translations of work by David Rosenmann-Taub and a bunch of other interesting, odd, philosophical poets.

Meanwhile I also put out a 3rd tiny book from Burn This Press, moon landing, but that will need to have its own separate post. I’m gearing up to print at least one more Burn This Press book for 2011, plus a reprint of Composite #1, the Baudelaire issue.

No Place Fast

This morning I was reading an F. A. Nettelbeck book and thinking about his little books and his poems. Half the time I roll my eyes at what, when I was editing a magazine, I used to call Body Fluid Poetry, but he rescues it over and over either in the poem itself or by juxtaposition with stuff that doesn’t seem like a gratuitous “outpouring”. My friend Greg Hall did this too and I suspect I do too; hopefully with some skill. I admire a poet that can talk dirty with delicacy.

book cover for No Place Fast

The thing with Nettelbeck is that his units of stuff have an impact, whether books or tiny THIS IS IMPORTANT pamphlets. I read them all at once and am left with the impression of having walked through a hologram of a poet’s state of mind, of how their perceptions intertwine with language. The poems might be tiny units themselves but it’s the whole book that sticks with me and the poem doesn’t even *try* to wind up reality and stick a hypocritical christmas bow of finality on it. Fine, instead I am on a rusting lawn chair on a dirty porch hearing a train go by but at least we’re kicked back together with some Thoughts. Fred is always doing something but is always someplace else at the same time. We are in history. I get a little sentimental about some ink on a page from 1976 talking to ME RIGHT NOW DAMMIT. And into the future. Just a moment. You would never know what’s in another person’s brain as they sit next to you on that porch looking across the street but you just never know because anyone, anyone could be thinking on any level.

No Place Fast

Listen, you can hear
the blood drip quaintly
onto the sidewalk

children playing in it
draw pictures of
animals in bright
red fashion

everything seems to
be a feverish, frenzied,
half-acquitted history

then the bullets
turn into rain drops
and the animals are
washed away . . .

Another thing about Fred — I like his line breaks. You know how some people are trying too hard and are amateurish about how they turn a line? It’s good to know a poet knows what they’re doing but Nettelbeck also never stinks of academia which if you have ever sat through a Creative Writing Seminar sort of thing you should know what I mean.

Well, Son

they came down
from the academy in smocks

      paint the colors of jealousy

no one asked them        just like
ushers in church
soapy faced

         splattered us all with their

         broke our sculptures

         set fire to most of the drawings

         ripped up our canvases with knives

no one blamed them    they were
only doing their duty
showing a little gratitude

          we broke out the beer & relaxed


I think that's when they started to call
it art

this is art they said

         you will learn

R.I.P. Fred. and Dirty Greggie. Hanging out with Rimbaud and Genet on my bookshelf having a beer and listening to Jimmie Rodgers.

Granted I feel weird about liking old poet dudes this much when however much they humanize their whorey angels they still got em but we are all in the framework of patriarchy so what the hell.